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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

LSU defense will get better

BATON ROUGE - There is no question LSU's defense looked bad against Washington, and it had nothing to do with the road trip or with any of the other weak excuses LSU coach Les Miles has offered.

Yes, it was more difficult than normal to game plan for Washington's offense because it had a first-year coach in Steve Sarkisian, who helped run the offense at USC for years. But it was equally difficult for Washington to game plan for LSU's defense because it had a first-year coordinator in John Chavis, who ran the defense at Tennessee for years. Neither coach was going to do what their respective teams did strategically in 2008 because both Washington's offense and LSU's defense were terrible last season.

So, Sarkisian and staff studied what Chavis did at Tennessee, and LSU's staff studied what Sarkisian did at USC. And, by the way, Sarkisian and staff were coaching far less talented players than were LSU's coaches.

So where's the game plan advantage that Miles keeps saying Washington had?

Washington's coaches just did a much better job of preparation and called a better game than did LSU, plain and simple. Chavis did get better as the game wore on, particularly in the third quarter. LSU's defense came up with several stops in the second half and forced field goals instead of allowing touchdowns. This won the game.

A trademark of Chavis' defenses at Tennessee was that they got better during the season. That will happen this season. It will start happening Saturday when LSU hosts Vanderbilt. Chavis is too talented and his players are too talented to allow anything similar to a 478-yard game, except when LSU plays Florida.

Chavis' debut was disappointing but not nearly as bad as former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's opening night back in 2005. Pelini's defense allowed 560 yards to Arizona State, including 461 yards passing, in one of the worst defensive performances by LSU this decade.

And Arizona State finished that regular season 6-5. Not only did Pelini allow 560, he did that with most of the starters on the 2004 LSU defense that finished No. 3 in the nation in total defense (257 yards a game), No. 5 in pass defense (157 yds. a game) and No. 7 in rush defense (100 yds. a game). Then the next week Pelini blew a 21-0 halftime lead and gave up 320 to a Tennessee team that would finish 5-6, including 250 yards passing and 196 yards passing to weak-armed Rick Clausen.

Pelini got it together as the season went on though, and LSU finished No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267 yds. a game), No. 3 in pass defense efficiency and No. 3 in scoring defense (14.2 points a game) as well as No. 6 in rush defense (91.5 yards a game).

Chavis will also get it together and quick.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I remembered Pelini's debut in '05 while watching the Wash. game. The loss to a mediocre Clausen was even harder to believe [& excuse].

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crowton is very good, but I hope he learned something about mixing up the plays from Sarkisian. Scott up the middle was to predictable last Saturday. As the announcers kept saying, let the WRs take advantage of the DBs. Jefferson has a good enough arm.

10:30 AM  

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